GoCritic! Feature: Overview of Animateka's Main Competition I
- Milena Pantović takes an in-depth look at the first block of competition films screened at Animateka
The first round of screenings within the Main Competition of the 19th Animateka Film Festival opened a window onto contemporary animated film from Central and Eastern Europe, offering up a colourful palette of fairly heterogeneous content by authors of different ages and levels of experience.
The programme got off to a subtle start, introducing Polish short 3 geNARRATIONS by Paulina Ziółkowska, and her vividly dynamic watercolour portrait of a family welcoming its newest member. Grandmother, mother and daughter find themselves in new roles and trying to find new ways of functioning. Constant changes, with the characters literally and metaphorically jumping into one another’s shoes, definitely make this film a playful visual spectacle.
The Italian film 7 Themes for the Peri-Urban Landscape in Umbria by Giada Fuccelli uses a similar watercolour technique, but combines it with grey, cut-out, paper buildings to contrast and critique the destruction of the “green heart of Italy”, which is an effective way of addressing serious issues in a playful manner.
Besides vibrant colours and pleasant scenery, the line-up boasted inspiring and socially engaged films probing a variety of topics. Money and Happiness, a Serbian, clay stop-motion movie by Ana Nedeljković and Nikola Majdak Jr., is certainly one of them. It perfectly encapsulates the dystopian and merciless world of workers (hamster workers, on this occasion) who labour non-stop, a world which pushes the capitalist imperatives of work, money, consumerism and toxic positivity to their limit. As statements such as “Think positive” and “It’s not a problem, it’s a challenge” appear onscreen, it feels almost too painful to return to the real world, which is a genuine variant of this imaginative one. Such feelings are heightened by the film’s use of dark yellows, browns and greens – an effectively nauseating colour palette which oozes atmosphere.
Other real-world themes, namely violence and discrimination, are portrayed in Ivana Laučikova’s Slovak film Mercy. The movie revolves around a real-life event where neo-Nazis brutally attacked a group of people called the Havrani, raising many worrisome questions, but eventually leaving room for hope and improvement. Laučikova’s use of classical music and its changes in tempo heightens the film’s tension, while the combination of pixelation, hand-drawn elements and extreme colour contrasts give an impression of disharmony.
Such colour is intensified in XX, Vasja Lebarič and Julij Zornik’s experimental blast of sound and motion, made by combining 8mm, 16mm and 35mm film. This narrativeless fusion of flashing patterns, adverts and scenery in timeless unity and amidst deafening sound is positively hypnotic, to say the least.
Visually and mentally demanding images and topics continued in Katarzyna Kijek and Przemysław Adamski’s Polish-Portuguese short Slow Light, as well as in Balász Turai's Hungarian-Romanian co-production Amok, two movies which rounded off the evening with deeply personal stories. Slow Light is a warm, heartfelt story about a boy with an unusual sight condition which causes a seven-year delay in his experience of reality, explaining his immaturity, lack of understanding and constant lingering on the past. The interplay between past and present is creatively rendered through stop-motion animation, and by combining brightly coloured cut-outs for the present and black-and-white equivalents for the past. Amok, meanwhile, contrasts sharply with Slow Light in terms of its general atmosphere and visual palette. This cartoon-like work, with its neon landscape and spooky synth music by Benjamin Efrati, exudes a subtly dark atmosphere as its protagonist deals with a disastrous proposal and must face his long-time inner demon in the form of Santa Claus. Once his confident, macho façade is destroyed he manages to find the love of his life, which can only be achieved if he faces up to his issues.
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